Letters from the Front

Private John Cushnie

Gas training at Bramshott

Private Collection

Saturday, July 21, 1917

Transcribed by: Anne Hales

Bramshott Camp, Hants, Eng

July 21st , 1917

Dear People:-

     Another week gone by as fast as usual.  We were duty battalion last week and so we had our time pretty well taken up as we had to do some extra fatigues.  I was lucky however in not having to do any guard.  Although the day’s work is pretty long yet the weeks pas fairly quickly because of the Wednesday afternoon sports which affords some variation from the regular routine of the day’s work.  Our work is getting more interesting now as we have less squad drill etc and more of musketry which is much more interesting.  We expected to go to Longmoor ranges today but we were not ready so we won’t likely go until next Saturday.

     We had some tests at the miniature ranges and I did fairly well getting a safe margin over “pass”.

     We also went through the gas chamber on Friday.  You know we have anti-gas drill quite often to get accustomed to the use of the Gas Helmets.  There are two kinds of gas helmets that we have to do with, the P.H helmet and the box respirator.

     The P.H. helmet is simply a kind of a bag which you pull over the head with a pair of glass goggles and a breathing valve.  The skirt of the helmet is tucked in under the collar of the tunic which makes it airtight.  The air we breathe is purified by some chemicals in the cloth of the helmet and we breathe out through the valve.

     The Box Respirator consists of a mouthpiece and a box which contains chemicals which purify the air breathed through the mouthpiece.  We went through a very mild concentration of gas with a P.H. helmet on and didn’t notice any difference from the pure air.  The Gas Chamber is underground and we simply walk in one door and out the other.  The gas is just like a smoke colour.

     We also went through tear gas which has no ill effects whatever but just makes the eyes water.  It is just like peeling onions on the eyes.  They have special goggles for tear gas but we didn’t wear them as they just wanted to give us some idea of what it is like.

     Seven of our officers are in France now.  They are Colonel Pritchard , Majors Justice and Grieve , Captains Doughty, Paul , Wood and Scott.  Scott and Doughty are in the trenches but the others aren’t yet.

     I just saw in the “Canada Gazette” yesterday that Lieut Rowley , our old Signal officer, has been killed in France. Sgt. Bryant is over here now too with the artillery.

     There is Canadian mail tomorrow and I hope to get a lot as I haven’t had any mail for a week.

     Must close now as it is nearly “Lights Out”.

Love to all


This is part of the John Cushnie Collection. This is a collection of approximatly 98 letters from 1916 to 1918, and a diary with 220 entries from 1918. These letters and diary entries, were very gratiously provided by Anne Hales.